Thoughts on RTK?

Hi! So I’ve started out pretty recently with Wanikani, and I’ve also been using Genki I. I was wondering if Remembering The Kanji would help speed up the learning process. So is RTK a good supplement to Wanikani, or is learning through Wanikani and Genki sufficient?

Also, this is my first post, so I’m not really sure if this is the right category to post, or if this question has been asked before lol

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I would say you should make the decision to use RTK or WK. WK might be more useful though because I believe RTK doesn’t teach as much.

There’s little reward in using multiple resources for things like kanji when that’s only one part of the language. Instead you should supplement Genki with something like BunPro which adds wider reading and maybe an anki deck as you go through to SRS vocabulary you’ll find outside of WK.


I’m liking WK a lot so far, so I might stick with it. Although, I’m also curious on what benefits RTK has over WK. Also, thanks for the additional resources! I’ll look into them.

They’re not really compatible at all. You’d be learning two different sets of keywords with two different orders of kanji… I feel like it would just be confusing.

Did someone tell you such benefits exist? I mean, I can imagine someone might prefer RTK just because it’s their preference, but that would just be a personal thing. The basic RTK doesn’t teach any vocabulary, so some people do finish it really quickly and then brag that they can write 2000 kanji after just a few months or something, but they (sometimes) neglect to mention that they don’t know how to read the kanji and they don’t know any words yet.


It doesn’t actually speed up anything. It just splits the process in half and many people overlook the second volume which teaches the readings of the Kanji.


Huh. Pretty weird that they would split up what the kanji means and how to read them into two seperate books. Thanks for the info though!


Since it’s a book, I assume you can go through it at your own pace and breeze through it in a couple months if one is motivated enough. Although, it doesn’t seem to have the repetition and drills that WK offers, if I’m not mistaken. Granted, you could write it on paper or use Anki, but as others have said, there’s also the problem of no vocab.

Anyways, thanks for the insight! Definitely going to stick with WK :))

I don’t think there is any. RTK is another mnemonic approach to learn the meaning of Kanji. But they don’t supply their own mnemonic for many kanji. For the bulk of the book you need to come up with your own mnemonics. Also you need to make you own flash cards because there is no software to do so. With both RTK and Wanikani you would just duplicate the work with no benefit.


Stick to WK, better and it is easily updateable which includes modern but customizable mnemonics, whereas physical book won’t receive any revisions at all. Not to mention you have audio with pitch accent so yeah way better than RTK.
On top of that no vocab or sentence to grasp the meaning of kanjis which is another reason why i don’t plant on buying it. Knowing on and kun’yomi meanings may be useful for reading you still need a solid base which are sentences.
Book is too old and inefficient imo. It was great when it first came out cause you didn’t have online resources like WK or BunPro or online dictionaries like Takoboto or Goo dictionary.

Go with WK and Genki and after that 総まとめや新完全マスター series. I suggest you to buy はじめての日本語能力試験N5単語 book, plenty of vocab and interesting things you won’t find in beginner books.


The only valid book-alternative to WK in my opinion is KKLC - Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course. It teaches meanings via mnemonics + readings and (recommended) vocabulary. Of course it will list all the readings at once, which can be pretty overwhelming, while WK gives you only one at first.

Complete the 3 free levels here and you’ll see if you like WK’s system enough to pay for it. It will become quite demanding later on and it definitely has its flaws, but for me it’s the best way for lazy people.


Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course is my kanji reference book. Nothing can beat it. And i recommend it to people who don’t like paying for WK just one time.

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Thing about RTK is that… there has been accounts of that system making some hard core learners learn 3000 kanji in like… idk like 5 months or so? or even less time I think. Which is completely nuts, and I think they just learn the meaning, and then after that they learn the readings or something.
So it might be extremely efficient. However, is boring and tedious as all hell.

I was also torn between wanikani and RTK. And i picked WK cause its fun to do, just wake up, open the site, it was everything ready for me I just need to sit and drill it every morning and im done. With RTK you have to come up with stories… and other tedious things. I just knew i wouldnt get myself to come up with over 2k stories haha. Im in no rush and I love that KW pairs the kanji with vocab that uses the kanji u are learning at the same time.


RTK Pros

  • Cheaper
  • Implores user to create own mneumonics after the first 500 Kanji which may lead to easier retention
  • Has community services such as Koohii, which has hundreds of users providing mneumonics for you to pick
  • Covers more Kanji than WK

RTK Cons

  • A chore to make own mneumonics
  • RTK 1 only teaches meaning of Kanji, not how to read it. (Which comes later on in RTK 2)
  • In an attempt to make the meaning of each Kanji unique and not repeated, some of the meanings inserted by James Heisig is super far off from the actual meaning.
  • Doesn’t give vocabulary alongside the Kanji
  • Doesn’t teach words that have a completely different meaning from their respective Kanji. These words are taught ocassionally in WK

I do find that RTK radicals make much more sense than WK. I found that a lot of WK radicals from Level 25 (that weren’t taught as a Kanji in previous levels) make completely no sense when you compare the graphic of the radical to the given meaning of the radical.

But overall, I much prefer WK though. The premade mneumonics, the efficient SRS system and the boatload of scripts that can be utilised makes my lifetime membership worth it. RTK 1 and RTK 2 costs as much as a yearly WK membership anywah.

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I came to WK after doing about 80-100 of RTK. RtK helped me get started with kanji, and I ended up doing about 150 or 180 before I stopped.

Benefits of RtK:
The mnemonics suited me better. I still sometimes want to go back and look at them some time. Also, some of the order in RtK is more to my tastes.

Benefits of WK:
WK teaches you the reading, which is ultimately super important, and it gradually builds vocabulary. Also, it challenges you to prove you really know the meaning, whereas I kinda forgot a bit of RtK.

I think WK is a better utility, but it may depend on the type of learner you are. In some cases, RtK + other resources might help you get to what WK does in one program.

Everyone always lists those as cons - which I get - but that’s actually what I liked about RTK :sweat_smile:

I did the shorter, streamlined RTK version (Recognition RTK), and I have mixed feelings about it overall. I think it depends on what you want it to achieve. WK and RTK do very different things.

For example, I’m not really interested in learning readings on their own before words; and I prefer to be able to decide which words I learn - RTK can be great for that because it only teaches you so little. I basically see it as just some recognition training - a way to see kanji as more than just squiggly lines, to learn to quickly be able to identify the components, etc.
I don’t even think the meanings you learn matter that much in the end (honestly, I forgot a ton of them once I stopped reviewing them. :grimacing: And some of the keywords are weird anyway)

Obviously, Wanikani is kind of the opposite in the sense that it gives you everything you need in one place - many people prefer that.

That being said, I’d never to the full RTK unless it’s for writing or something. I did the ~1250? that were included in RRTK and was so tired of it by the end. It really does get exhausting at some point. After the first couple hundred I didn’t get much out of it anymore either, I think.
Overall it made vocab learning a lot easier for me in the beginning, but I regret not stopping earlier.

They don’t “learn” them in the sense that whenever they see them, they’ll know them. It’s merely a recognition thing, as in, “Hey, I’ve seen that Kanji before. I don’t remember what it means, but I recognise it.”

I tired RTK, but there is too much useless stuff to memorize. Also, for me at least, the gamification aspect of Wanikani is priceless. Not once before I get going so consistently. You are now level 2, but in some weeks, it will be far more demanding here and you might not consider using another source to learn kanji anyway.
Next to wanikani, maybe focus on grammar or a book or whatever. But in the end, you will have to find out for yourself.

But as mentioned, this and RTK at the same time…don´t think that is beneficial.

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They’re both based on learning through mnemonics via radicals, although with different order and different focus. RTK adds stroke orders with every radical/kanji. However it splits the kanji over two volumes, with the first volume being solely about remembering its meaning and the second volume about reading (with some words associated with those kanji). There’s also a third volume that covers kanji not in the jouyou kanji. They’re pricey books and you still need to set up your own learning and review schedule based on the material in it.

So if you do it simultaneous with wanikani, you’re kinda missing the point. I think they can supplement one and another if you’re finished with one of them.

whatever keeps you coming back. Use that.

Everyone else has made great points about the difference between RTK and Wani Kani. I own both and I found that having the physical RTK book was just too easy to ignore. Something about having the WK website on my computer screen and phone, and emailing me keeps more far more motivated. So I’ve gotten much farther using WK than RTK. But that’s more about what motivates you and how you learn best.